Kennedy senior Carlos Saravia decided to turn a setback from 2018 into something positive in 2019.
The result was a state championship.
Saravia used a strong home-stretch kick and eclipse second-place Colby Thompson of Lakeview in Class 2A boys 300-meter hurdle state track and field finals Saturday at Western Oregon University's McArthur Field.
"I was expecting it; I felt really confident going in," said Saravia, who notched a time of 40.72 to win the title and also had the top mark of 41.07 in Friday's preliminary race.
"Last year I had an injury (separated shoulder) and I missed the whole season," he said.
The final kick moved him ahead, and that's the way Savaria wanted to do it.
"The first time I ran the 300 since my injury, I got caught at the end just like that," he said. "I did not want that to happen again."
Saravia said winning the state championship is definitely the highlight of his senior year. He said what makes it even better is that he is the first to get a title in the hurdles at Kennedy.
It was a particularly sweet moment considering that earlier in the day, Saravia was disqualified in the finals of the 110-hurdles. A state championship contender in that event, Saravia was in second place when he clipped the seventh hurdle, sending him stumbling toward the eighth hurdle. He instinctively put his hands up to guard himself, knocking over the hurdle with his hands to earn the disqualification.
"He was just protecting himself, which is understandable after his shoulder injury last year," head coach Steve Ritchie said.
Saravia opened the second day of competition as one-quarter of the Trojans' 4x100 relay team, joining Bryce Vandervort, Nick Riedman and Gianni Velazquez to place seventh with a time of 45.94.
"Doing that in the slower heat, and then beating two or three teams in the fast heat was a pretty big achievement for our boys," Ritchie said.
The boys' final state qualifier, senior Nick Suing, finished his track career with a pair of podium finishes in the throwing events. Suing placed sixth in the discus with a toss of 124-06 and set a personal record of 47-01.50 in the shot put to place fourth overall.
A late edition to the Kennedy track program, Suing joined the team as a junior and quickly took to the two events. In 22 career track meets, Suing set PRs in the shot put 12 times, including three consecutive meets over the past two weeks to finish his career.
"When he was leaving Saturday, he said, 'Thanks for a great season, a good two years, and I just wish it could have been four.' I said, 'Me too,'" Ritchie recalled, laughing.
Together, the boys team placed 14th overall with 20 points.
The girls team continued its strong showing from winning the district championship a week prior, finishing fourth overall with a score of 53.5 points. Enterprise won the meet at 64.5, followed closely by Grant Union (64), and Monroe (62).
Ritchie was particularly impressed with the team's showing, considering the Trojans earned a team trophy despite not fielding a state champion on the girls side.
"Usually you pile up points with one or two kids," Ritchie said. "But it was really a team effort for the girls. I think we had 10 girls who got onto the podium. It's kind of a continuation of our district meet performance. They carried that into state, and everybody contributed."
Though the team may have been without a state champion, it still racked up a number of points through senior Hallie Sprauer, who notched a trio of top-three finishes to score 22 points individually.
Sprauer took home third place in the long jump with a PR of 17-00.50, finishing just behind Weston-McEwen's Ellie Scheibner (17-01.75) and Portland Christian's Kathryn Nyone (17-08.50).
She added runner-up finishes in the triple jump (34-06.25) and high jump (5-03). Sprauer qualified for the state track and field championships four consecutive years, twice for 3A Horizon Christian before transferring to 2A Kennedy for her junior and senior years. Despite an impressive resume that boasts 11 medals over her career, Sprauer never finished with an individual championship medal.
"It's kind of hard to believe considering how good of a performer she was, and she always did her best in the biggest meets," Ritchie said.
Sprauer came closest in the high jump, where she was beaten in each of the past two seasons by Grant Union's Kaylee Wright. The two have staged epic battles in the high jump pit the past two years, which have been near-mirrored performances.
Both years, the two jumpers have dueled for the state title as the lone competitors to clear 5-01. Each time, Sprauer was leading after clearing 5-02, only for Wright to come from behind and clear 5-03 in less attempts to take the leading and ultimately the title.
"It was virtually the same as last year," Ritchie said. "Hallie had three really good attempts at 5-04, and the last one I thought she was over, but just nicked it."
Elsewhere in the field events, Sophia Rodriguez placed fourth in the triple jump (33-04.25) and ninth in the long jump (15-06). Senior Makayla Massey was eighth in the shot put (31-11.25) and ninth in the discus (91-10), and throwing teammate Lilly English placed third in the event with a toss of 108-00. Senior Caitlyn Kleinschmit rounded out the throwers, placing 11th in the javelin with a throw of 89-04.
In the running events, senior Alejandra Lopez closed her running career with a sixth-place finish in the 1,500 (5:08.71) and a third-place finish in the 3,000 (11:02.25). Teammate Cassie Traeger placed 11th in the 1,500 in 5:36.59.
Emma Beyer placed seventh in the 100 (13.28) and 10th in the 200 (28.58), while Kylee Rodriguez added a 12th-place finish in the 400 (1:05.73).
Caitlyn Perez gave the Trojans a podium finish in the 100 hurdles, placing fourth in 17.52, and added a ninth-place finish in the 300 hurdles (51.88).
Rounding out the team scores were Perez, Beyer, Sprauer and Clarissa Traeger in the 4x100 with a sixth-place time of 52.47.
Beyer and Clarissa Traeger were unable to compete in the 4x400 event later that evening, forcing Ritchie to turn to reserves Perez and Cassie Traeger to team with Lopez and Rodriguez.
The quartet turned around and put up a season-best time of 4:29.46, shaving three seconds off their previous best to place eighth overall.
"That was pretty cool," Ritchie said. "I told them I've never been more excited out of an eighth place finish."
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